Sgt. James Zucchelli of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service explains the dangers of leaving garbage out overnight to the manager of a business as part of a provincewide bear garbage attractant management campaign. (Mark Brett - Black Press Media )

Lake Country begins testing bear-resistant garbage carts

The bear-resistant garbage carts are expected to stop bears from scavenging for food

As the leaves fall to the ground and the temperatures begin to drop, it’s clear winter is right around the corner.

The change in season isn’t just a sign it’s time for humans to bundle up, it’s also an indication that animals are bulking up for the chilly months ahead.

In an effort to stop bears from scavenging for food in people’s garbage, the Regional Waste Reduction Office in conjunction with waste contractor E360 is conducting a pilot project this fall with fully automated bear-resistant garbage carts in select neighbourhoods in Lake Country.

“This is the time of year bears amp up their foraging to build fat stores for winter denning,” said waste reduction facilitator Rae Stewart.

“The best advice if you live in an area susceptible to wildlife is to reduce your risk of conflict and take responsibility for your trash.”

To help residents mitigate bear activity in Lake Country’s urban areas, the Regional Waste Reduction Office has placed roughly 15 bear-resistant garbage carts in two select urban locations where wildlife is prevalent.

One of the bins being tested is called a rehrig bear-resistant cart, which features an auto release to allow collectors to easily empty the garbage.

The other model is called a waste cart lock, which is more heavy-duty and involves some effort on the part of the resident. The waste cart lock bin has two metal bars that fit across the top of the bin and are screwed into place.

Residents are responsible for releasing the bars on the day of pickup.

Stuart said both models have only been used for a few weeks in Lake Country, which is why it is too early to tell which model, if any, will be the most effective.

“We are working closely with other communities on the various models that they are using and keeping close tabs on their success rate,” said Stewart.

“Nothing has been determined yet in terms of model, that’s why we are in the process of testing them on a small scale. If these are deemed fairly successful we will try them on a broader scale.”

Wildlife BC is also encouraging Lake Country residents to take the measures necessary to limit bears from becoming attracted to residential areas.

Meg Bjordal, Wildlife BC Okanagan Westside coordinator, encourages residents to avoid leaving what Wildlife BC refers to as unnatural food sources such as fruit, birdseed or table scraps in an area that could be accessible to bears.

“The problem with bears having access to unnatural food sources is that it can lead them to become food-conditioned,” said Bjordal.

“Once they become food-conditioned they can very quickly become human habituated whereby they actually begin to associate people with food and that’s when they start to tolerate people in closer proximity than what is safe for both the people and the bears.”

Since June of this year, 97 black bears have been euthanized by the BC Wildlife service across the province mostly due to public safety concerns.

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